Study Smart to spur STEM subjects

Digital learning platform Study Smart launches to close the gap between private and state school STEM teaching

The new on-demand digital learning and performance-management platform has been designed to help state school teachers improve academic attainment in GCSE Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for AQA and Edexcel examination boards.

Study Smart’s interactive content is created for teachers by subject-specialist teachers from some of the nation’s leading schools. It is intended to supplement existing teaching methods and designed for use in the classroom and at home on mobile, internet connected devices and laptops.

To bring the curriculum to life in the classroom, Study Smart includes a series of custom interactive video presentations that, for example, teach physics using parkour free-running and illustrate the workings of the central nervous system through skydiving.

Automatic marking and diagnostic tracking provides teachers with real time data on all starters, plenaries and homework activities – both by class and individual student; saving time on marking whilst diagnosing concepts and skills that need further attention for subsequent lesson planning.

In 2012/2013 the Department for Education (DfE), reported that 39% of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved GCSE A* – C grades compared with 65% of other pupils and 86% of teachers state that students are more motivated and attentive when computers and the internet are used in class.

According to a 2013 Parliamentary report (www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/POST-PN-430.pdf), students from poorer backgrounds tend to perform weakly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other subjects, pre and post-16, relative to their peers. The report concludes that overall, the strongest predictor of post-16 participation in STEM subjects is prior attainment, with GCSE triple award students being the most likely to take STEM A-levels.

There is a shortage of STEM skills in the UK workforce, with 42% of employers reporting difficulties recruiting STEM-proficient staff. This has justifiably led to concern that a gap exists between what is provided by STEM education and what is required by industry, which is being accentuated by a decline in aspects of educational standards in the 14-19 phase, the report states.

Study Smart was founded by Nadia Bentoua and Lala Day – with backgrounds in teaching, course development, teacher training and linguistics. Their combined passion for education and technology, frustration with current pedagogical methods and at the attainment gap in UK schools led them to create Study Smart.

Nadia Bentoua, Co-Founder of Study Smart, commented: “Our vision is to use technology to redress the attainment gap between state and private education – especially in STEM subjects – to enable pupils from less fortunate backgrounds to realise their potential.”

Lala Day, Co-Founder of Study Smart, added: “We believe that the future of education is paperless, and that a more digitally-enhanced classroom will not only give teachers more time to complete more important tasks and have more one-on-one time with pupils, but as a result, will improve the standard of education that students are receiving. Though the issue of mobile phone usage in the classroom is contentious if lessons had a more interactive and computer-based element to them, I believe pupils would greatly reap the benefits from this.

“The media that is used alongside the curriculum is outdated now — many schools currently use videos as part of the curriculum, but these are invariably passive. Today’s pupils have been raised on engaging non-linear media. They deserve interactive, compelling learning resources that run parallel to the devices they use every day.”

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